I have spent the better part of my life watching the Clifton Country Mall rise and fall and I have seen it go from a bustling neighborhood hotspot to a virtual ghost town. The mall opened in 1976 (the U- shaped portion seen below) and was anchored by Denby’s on one end and Mack Drug Store(later CVS) and A&P (later Price Chopper) on the other. Schenectady’s Carl Company Department store also had a large branch in the middle complete with its own restaurant. Early tenants I remember were Ground Round, Kinney Shoes, Corbett Shoes, Kessler, Foxmoor, Consumers, Friendly’s, Lerner, Endicott Johnson, Fanny Farmer, Flah’s, and Thom McAn Shoes. JCPenney opened up shop in the Denby’s space in 1983 and the mall was expanded and renovated in 1984 and a food court, 6-screen cinema, and Caldor were added.
It was at this point I believe that the mall’s owners painted EVERYTHING inside and outside of the mall a bright dingy salmon color that would become old looking with time. The mall’s demise started in 1991 when The Carl Company shut down all of its stores leaving its space empty for two years until Marshalls opened and then things really got bad. Also in the early 1990s Price Chopper relocated to a new super center in a strip mall across the street to be replaced by Steinbach. Throughout the 1990s, the mall became dated losing chain stores such as The Gap, Stuarts, Lane Bryant, Limited, and Express and gaining a variety of short- lived mom and pop gift shops. The near apocalypse came in 1999 when Caldor and Steinbach went out of business ON THE SAME DAY! Many smaller stores followed them out leaving the mall’s future in limbo.
In the year 2000, some changes began to take place. The mall’s owners announced a new name “Clifton Park Center” as well as a total mall renovation which took all of the mall’s pink out and a new 2-story Boscov’s Department Store. However the mall was very slow to take off and the wings by JCPenney and the old Steinbach still remain very much vacant. In recent years, the mall has begun to gain some ground with stores such as Klein’s All Sports, American Eagle, Bath & Body Works, and Foot Locker. Already announced for 2004 are Pacific Sunwear and Aeropostale. Malls seem to be going downhill in general, but overall I think this mall is gaining some footing. However much of the mall is hunched up in a tight, small lot which does not make it large enough to leave elbow room for national retailers and chain stores to locate.